By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun
7:54 PM EST, December 7, 2012
Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon has paid off the $45,000 a court ordered her to donate to charities, resolving charges that she violated her probation in the criminal case that led to her leaving office.
In early November, Dixon was charged with violating her probation because she had fallen behind on the donations. In court Friday, her probation officer said the $27,000 balance had been paid off, pending the clearance of two cashier's checks.
Dixon, who said when the charges were filed that she couldn't keep up with the payments, declined to say where she found the money.
"I'm not going to comment. I'm moving on," she said. "You fall from grace with people, but you don't fall from grace with God."
As part of a 2010 plea deal related to perjury and theft charges, Dixon was allowed to keep her $83,000-a-year city pension so long as she resigned from office, donated $45,000 to charity, performed 500 hours of community service and completed at least two years of probation.
Judge Dennis M. Sweeney said he would sign an order terminating Dixon's probation, likely before the end of the year, if the checks clear.
"The conditions of the plea deal were met, so this was the appropriate resolution at this point," said State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt, whose office handled the case against the former mayor.
Dixon was also banned from seeking public office while on probation but will be free to pursue public office after it ends. Shortly before the probation violation charges were filed, Dixon had made moves back into the public arena, but she has not said whether she plans to run for election again.
City laws deny pensions to officials convicted of crimes connected to their public duties. But Dixon received probation before judgment, sidestepping convictions in the theft and perjury cases.
The probation violation charges threatened to wreck that deal because a judge could have revoked the probation, convicting Dixon of the original offenses.
State records showed that Dixon's charity contributions had been erratic, with long lapses followed by a series of payments. Dixon testified Friday that she had completed the community service without problems, and her attorney said she had gone "above and beyond the requirements of her probation."
She said she had worked at a range of organizations in Baltimore, tutoring, providing job training and acting as a liaison to the city for a housing group. Dixon also said she had helped raise funds for Arena Players, a community theater.
"I assist in multiple areas," she said.
The state prosecutor's office began investigating Dixon after The Baltimore Sun reported in 2006 that the city had paid her former campaign chairman hundreds of thousands of dollars for work done without a contract.
In 2009, a jury found Dixon guilty of embezzling $500 in gift cards supposed to go to needy families. In early 2010 Dixon entered an Alford plea — acknowledging that a conviction was likely but not admitting guilt — to a perjury charge that she had not disclosed gifts from her developer boyfriend.
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